The YMCA’s two-day national conference, on the 14 and 15 July, was packed with inspiring sessions and presentations led by a wide range of speakers, interspersed with a number of informative workshops. Throughout the conference, delegates had plenty of opportunities to network, meet up with old friends and forge new relationships. While informal discussions on new projects and programmes helped to examine best practise and prepare us for the future.
Day one saw Carolyn Sims, Banking Director at Charity Bank highlight a number of challenges affecting charities today, including the government’s plans to place a cap on the Local Housing Allowance and how Brexit will have implications for the sector. This issue was further emphasised by a presentation from Karl Wilding from National Council for Voluntary Organisations.
Attendees were then presented with a number of fashions and trends among young people today by Josephine Hansom from the research agency YouthSight. This included some ‘eye-opening’ current vocabulary, leisure, lifestyle trends and what we can expect in the future.
From the political world, Alastair Campbell, former press secretary and director of communications and strategy during the Blair government, answered questions from the audience on his experience at the heart of Westminster. He provided a fascinating insight into decision-making at No.10 and the pressures all Prime Minister’s face. He also lent his support for YMCA’s #IAMWHOLE campaign, sharing his own experience of struggling with mental health.
On day 2, Jack Dromey, Shadow Minister for Labour, MP for Birmingham Erdington and YMCA Parliamentary Patron, presented his view of the current political landscape from the House of Commons. He was very much aware that YMCA East Herts’s own Trustee, Fee Onasanya, had become the Labour MP for Peterborough and he promised to support her!
Day two also had a variety of workshops which offered people a chance to delve into a number of different subjects, including YMCA campaigns, advice and guidance, international work and government funding.
Looking to the future, everyone was given the opportunity to debate and vote on the proposed ‘Rights and Responsibilities’ presentation. This sought to clearly articulate that the YMCA is a values-led federation enabling the principle of subsidiarity and focussing on co-operation, openness and commitment. By providing feedback on some of the emerging themes from the work that has been undertaken by various groups over the past 18 months clear areas of both rights and responsibilities were proposed and discussed.
Living in a volatile external climate is challenging for all Charities. This national conference reaffirmed the YMCA Federation’s passion to work to with young people. Inspired by, and faithful to, our Christian values we will continue to create supportive, inclusive and energising communities, where young people can truly belong, contribute and thrive.